Love you always, daddy

I’m writing this from the side of a hospital bed with my dad lying on it.

Mum and dad at Dr Yap's clinic, waiting
for turn to see the doctor
It’s 2am when they finally settled him and turned down the lights in the men’s ward.  A symphony of snores surround me as patients rest for the night.

Recently, dad was showing symptoms like loss of appetite and at breakfast, he could not even finish the sandwich that he spread for himself.  He told me that he felt nauseous if he tried to eat more.

A day before, dad failed to finish his portion of lunch and dinner, setting his plate aside with a sigh.  He told me that he could no longer enjoy food now.  So there was no point in taking him out to eat because he couldn’t chew and enjoy his food anymore.

But dad said he could still enjoy the mushroom soup and grilled chicken sandwich at Niniq, a bistro where we dine regularly.  I reminded him about the soft dosai that he liked and he agreed that yes, maybe that too.

Then when I encouraged him to eat another bite or spoonful, dad gagged with nausea.  This morning at breakfast, dad again said he couldn’t finish his meal.  I was rather concerned and told him that if such symptoms persists, we have to go to the doctor.

Dad with our middle sister, Pearly, at
Mahmoodiah clinic for regular check-up
When he got up from the table, dad lifted up his singlet and showed me his abdomen that was covered with a band of rash.  He said yesterday, when he was drying himself after his shower, he discovered the rough skin surface and realized something was wrong.  Mum and I suspected that it was a virus that caused the shingles and this helped me decide not to put off the appointment to consult his doctor.

Dad was not reluctant to see the doctor but told me he did not want to be admitted to the ward.  I considered his skin infection and assured him that if the doctored wanted to monitor his condition, I would take him to the clinic daily.  Dad has a good rapport with Dr Yap and feels comfortable discussing his condition in medical terms with the doctor.

phoned Dr Yap’s clinic at KPJ Puteri Specialist Hospital but the nurse was reluctant to add dad to the list of his patients.  She quizzed me if dad had a fever (for a sense of urgency!) but I told her dad was a regular patient and needed to see the doctor today.  We agreed for an appointment in the afternoon and I said we would be there after 2pm.

Group shot taken in May 2015 with
[Front row] Pearly, dad and mum, Ruby and
[Back row] Peggy, Veronica, Amanda, Kenneth and Brendon
As usual, mum and I would accompany dad to Dr Yap’s clinic and after I dropped them off at the porch, I would park and join them at the clinic.  We know the good doctor is a popular physician with a queue of patients waiting to consult him, so we were prepared for the wait – which was often rather long.

To our surprise, the wait was not long this time and Dr Yap himself opened the door to call dad in!

In humour typical of dad, he greeted the doctor in Japanese language.  They had a good consultation and the doctor sent us out with the assurance that as dad’s shingles was at an early stage, he should respond better to treatment.

Mum and dad with the grand-daughters!
We had to wait for the nurse to hand over the prescription and I made dad sit while waiting.  Dad, who used to work with the government hospital dispensary, told me that in those days, the hospital would dispense anthisan cream for shingles.  He even reminded me to ask the dispenser, when I collected his prescription, for the name of the cream prescribed.

In our many visits to the clinic, we have walked this same path to the pharmacy countless times.  So with me holding his left arm, I started walking to the pharmacy with dad.  He held his walking stick in his right hand while mum was just behind us.  As we approached the entrance to the men’s room, I asked dad if he needed to go but he did not reply.

Looking back, I guess something was already happening to him because his facial expression was blank – neither yes or no thanks – in response to my question.  Dad was always polite, with a habit in saying Thank You even if I handed him a spoon, and it was unlike him to remain silent.

Mum and dad with their first
great-grand-daughter, Vivienne
By the time we rounded the bend and was walking in front of the dispensary counter with the rows of seats to our right, I noticed that dad’s walking stick was being dragged on the ground.

Suddenly dad was keeling over to the right and he was pulling me along!  We landed softly on the nearest front row seat and mum’s shouts of alarm attracted the nursing staff who rushed to our aid!

Dad’s awkward position plus his height and weight, was a challenge for the nurses to lift him onto a wheelchair to take him to the Emergency Room.

After a brief struggle, a stranger who was probably a patient’s family member, came forward to lift dad onto the wheelchair.  In the commotion, I could only remember his green colour jersey and the strap of a man-bag across his chest.  Whoever you are, sir, thanks very much for not hesitating to lend your strength to help us in lifting my dad.

Dad with his son, Kenneth [Left] dining with visitors,
Uncle Steven and Aunty Polly
At the ER, the doctor and her team acted quickly and when a nurse from Dr Yap’s clinic who was there, recognized us, I passed her dad’s patient card to ask Dr Yap to come to see dad quickly.  And he did.

He turned up in a few minutes and when he examined dad, Dr Yap was clearly shocked at the sudden turn of events when he discovered that dad had suffered an acute stroke.  It was particularly shocking because only a few minutes ago, the doctor and dad were sharing a good laugh during the consultation in his clinic.

Dr Yap advised us to get dad admitted for medical attention but upon checking, found that there were no beds available in the hospital.  He suggested alternative hospital options and the ER doctor helped to make the calls to find out the bed availability.

Another usual wait at Dr Yap's clinic
While mum and I were in shock, we had to think rationally to make decisions while I kept my siblings updated on the developments.  Then I recalled a conversation with dad who told us that in the event of anything happening to him, he wanted to be sent to the JB GH or Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) as it is known now.  So while I shuttled between Dr Mazlina and talking to mum and my siblings, we reached the decision to transfer dad to HSA.

With the paperwork completed, mum volunteered to ride with dad in the ambulance while I went home to pick up dad’s records at HSA.  A few years ago, even after dad had his angiogram done by Dr Yap, dad preferred to have his his angioplasty done in HSA.  It made sense for dad to have his follow-up treatments with the HSA specialists clinic and Mahmoodiah outpatient clinic because he was a former staff of the JB GH.

Our ordeal at the HSA Accident & Emergency ward was expected to be long but we never anticipated the hours we had to spend just waiting.  The A & E of a public hospital such as HSA was the very place to see the true colours of Malaysia because all races of citizens affected by various ailments, were seeking treatment here.

Mum and dad, my brother and his wife,
and yours truly [Right] at Legoland Malaysia
Mum and I are ever grateful for the gentle and frank opinions of Dr Hakim and Dr Tee who gave us reassurance and advice on dad’s condition.  Later, much later, when dad was finally ferried to the men’s ward at almost midnight, Dr Subhash also dealt professionally with us.  After Dr Subhash examined dad, she advised that one of us should stay with him through the night.

So here I am, sitting by dad’s bed in HSA, as he rests fitfully.  The staff nurse in charge of this section made the prescribed cardio check on dad and fitted a Riles tube for feeding purposes.  Then she pulled up a desk next to where I’m sitting to do her paperwork.

We shared a quiet camaraderie as she busied herself filling forms in patient files while I recollected my eventful day.  In our short snatches of conversation that were punctuated by her getting up to attend to patient needs, I learnt more about Nurse Haliza Isa, who hails from Pahang, and her interests.

I smiled when I heard that dad had joined the snoring symphony, glad that he was catching up with some sleep after such an eventful day.  It was surreal to think that in a matter of moments, everything changed.  Now we have a new chapter ahead as we adjust our lives around dad and his needs.

The doctor explained that the prognosis was not good.  In medical terms, dad’s conscious level was 9% out of 15% which means that he may never recognise us again.  As a result of his acute stroke, not only was his speech impaired, he’s no longer himself.  I’m just sad that we may never enjoy dad’s corny jokes and friendly banter, ever again.

Daddy, I'll love you forever and no one can ever take your place as the first man in my life.  I’m missing you already.  You may not recognise me but just as you have always been my strongest supporter, I’m here for you now and for always.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Peggy, I'm a JB reader who has enjoyed your blog for a long time. So sorry to hear about your dad; wishing you peace. Delia